Foreign Languages Teacher

As a foreign language teacher, you'll be responsible for educating your students about the grammar, vocabulary and cultural elements of nations different from your own. Continue reading to learn more about academic and career opportunities for foreign language teachers.

Is Foreign Languages Teaching for Me?

Career Overview

If you're passionate about other languages and you like sharing that passion and knowledge with other people, then you might want to consider a career as a foreign language teacher. Foreign language teachers must be proficient in at least one language other than English, such as French, German, Spanish, Italian or Chinese. Alternative fields of study include English as a Second Language (ESL) programs.

Career Information

Although a bachelor's degree in a relevant field of study may open the door to a job as a middle or high school teacher, with a master's degree in a foreign language, you may be eligible to teach at some community colleges. As an ESL teacher, you'll be responsible for helping children and adults who speak a foreign language learn English and communicate effectively in their new country. Potential employers can include community programs or schools. While many ESL teachers work in the United States, jobs teaching English in another country are also available.

Job Growth and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of middle school teachers nationwide was expected to increase by 12% between 2012 and 2022, which is about average. Opportunities for high school teachers were projected to grow by half during the same period. Through 2022, job openings for adult literacy were expected to increase 9%, while employment of university professors was project to grow 19%.

As of May 2013, middle and high school teachers earned corresponding median salaries of $53,940 and $55,360 a year. Adult literacy instructors and foreign language professors earned median yearly salaries of $51,110 and $58,620, respectively, as of the same month (

How Can I Work in Foreign Language Teaching?

Education Requirements

Based upon information provided by the BLS, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree and a state license to teach a foreign language at the middle or high school level. Some ESL positions may require a master's degree in the subject. As an aspiring college professor at a 4-year school or university, you'll most likely need a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in a foreign language.


Foreign language courses typically include topics in grammar, vocabulary, diction and phonetics. You'll also study the history of one or more native-speaking countries, including its culture, linguistics and literature. Education courses may be another component of a foreign language program, through which you'll receive training in classroom management, curriculum development and teaching methods.

More advanced courses may target foreign language instruction, assessments and learning materials at the elementary and secondary levels. You may also be required to complete a student teaching experience.

Certification and Licensing

Licensing requirements for middle and high school teachers include a satisfactory score on a state-issued exam. Private school and substitute teachers, as well as foreign language tutors, who have completed their bachelor's degrees may not need a license.

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